8:19 The magicians said 1 to Pharaoh, “It is the finger 2 of God!” But Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, 3 and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted.
8:20 4 The Lord 5 said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and position yourself before Pharaoh as he goes out to the water, and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Release my people that they may serve me!
1 tn Heb “and the magicians said.”
2 tn The word “finger” is a bold anthropomorphism (a figure of speech in which God is described using human characteristics).
sn The point of the magicians’ words is clear enough. They knew they were beaten and by whom. The reason for their choice of the word “finger” has occasioned many theories, none of which is entirely satisfying. At the least their statement highlights that the plague was accomplished by God with majestic ease and effortlessness. Perhaps the reason that they could not do this was that it involved producing life – from the dust of the ground, as in Genesis 2:7. The creative power of God confounded the magic of the Egyptians and brought on them a loathsome plague.
3 tn Heb “and the heart of Pharaoh became hard.” This phrase translates the Hebrew word חָזַק (khazaq; see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 53). In context this represents the continuation of a prior condition.
4 sn The announcement of the fourth plague parallels that of the first plague. Now there will be flies, likely dogflies. Egypt has always suffered from flies, more so in the summer than in the winter. But the flies the plague describes involve something greater than any normal season for flies. The main point that can be stressed in this plague comes by tracing the development of the plagues in their sequence. Now, with the flies, it becomes clear that God can inflict suffering on some people and preserve others – a preview of the coming judgment that will punish Egypt but set Israel free. God is fully able to keep the dog-fly in the land of the Egyptians and save his people from these judgments.
5 tn Heb “And Yahweh said.”